“I'm surrounded by idiots.” Scar from the Ling King

Don’t worry, this is not what I thought about the board meeting, but rather what I was afraid the board members would think of me!  As a first-year, I was both excited and extremely nervous about my first board meeting. I was thrilled to talk with some of the best in our industry and to hear about the second-years’ internships. However, I couldn’t help but be a little nervous, because I have so much to learn about brand and our board members are geniuses when it comes to brand.

My nerves were set aside the minute I began talking to the board members at the dinner the night before. It was evident that they all are extremely passionate about what they do and about helping us succeed not only in the program but in our careers. In addition, it was fascinating to learn about the second-years’ internships and to realize that they got the opportunity to lead crucial projects for the companies they interned at.

Board MeetingHere are the top three things I learned from the board meeting:

  • When learning about a brand, look ten years back. When exploring a brand’s advertising and messaging over ten years, you learn a lot about the brand meaning and transformation through that time. This allows you to contribute more to the future of the brand without recreating the wheel.
  • Network, network, network. As a brand manager or intern it is so important to seek others’ insights. Networking three level’s deep and asking them the right questions really helps you identify the areas of opportunity for your brand and synergies you can build on between other brands in the company. Oh, and never forget the executive assistants!
  • Don’t get lost in the numbers. Us first years have been hearing this since day one: when you start looking at data it will be easy to get lost if you don’t have a hypothesis or goal before you start looking. However, another great insight was offered at the board meeting: there may not be just one right answer in the data. You must sort through the various right answers and pick the one that you believe aligns the best with the consumer, brand, and company. Once you pick this option, you must run with it.

And, of course, we also learned a great deal about our careers in general from the board members. Here is one key insight that was given to us:

  • Be good at your job today, instead of focusing on the next one. Often times, we look for the “next big thing” or next promotion. It is important to focus on your current job and learn as much as possible to grow. Your passion and knowledge will eventually lead to a promotion. Why not enjoy where you are and learn all you can during that time?

Throughout these past couple months, I have been so impressed with the program. From professors, to alumni, to board members, we are immersed in a team of people who provide us all the tools we need to succeed. This passion and commitment further fuels our fire and gets us excited for what lies ahead. I am certain that the University of Wisconsin Brand and Product Management program is the best program out there. I am beyond excited to continue to learn and grow and to watch my fellow brandies do the same.